Smartphones app usage, facilitated by explosive iOS and Android device adoption, has created among the fastest-growing media channels in the history of consumer technology. Flurry estimates that, worldwide, over 600 thousand apps are available for over 350 million iOS and Android devices. On average, consumers have downloaded over 65 apps per device.
While micro-transaction models, largely associated with free-to-play games, have proven the most lucrative business model for iOS and Android apps, there have been big bets placed on advertising. In addition to its own iAd initiative, Apple acquired Quattro, a mobile ad network, for $275 million in January 2010. This was shortly after Google announced its intention to acquire Admob, a rival ad network, for $750 million in November 2009.
In June 2011, Gartner projected that mobile advertising revenue would double to $3.3 billion worldwide in 2011, and grow from around $300 million to over $700 million in 2010 in North America. eMarketer, a research firm, predicts that U.S. mobile ad spending will top $1.1 billion this year.
In this report, Flurry focuses on the size and growth of available advertising inventory within iOS and Android applications. We used data from over 100,000 applications tracked by Flurry to estimate the size of this media channel. The chart below shows that U.S. app inventory is not only growing at a staggering rate, but also poised to absorb the equivalent of the entire U.S. Internet display advertising spend by the end of this year.
Reviewing the chart, we see that U.S. mobile app inventory has grown aggressively over the last year. With its growth trajectory, it will be able to absorb the entire U.S. online display ad spend by the end of the year. Another way to look at this is that, in approximately two years, mobile app inventory is growing so aggressively that it could easily meet the demand of a mature, 15-year-old form of online advertising.
To arrive at these figures, we first tracked the average number of ads shown per application session, which we found to be 4.3. The average application session is 4.2 minutes. For reference, the average session length of a website is just under 1 minute. We then looked at the number of sessions. Flurry tracks about 20% of all sessions in the market, and so we grew our numbers accordingly to come up with a market size.
We compared this inventory with the net spend on display advertising in the US. The US market currently spends a little over $12bn per annum on online display advertising. We assumed a conservative CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) of $2.50 for mobile application inventory. As a point of reference, a typical 30 second video on a large video streaming website such as Hulu has a CPM of $10-$15.
We at Flurry see four reasons why the market is growing at such a fast rate:
1) Smartphone growth – over a million smartphone devices are currently being activated on a daily basis
2) Publisher growth – The App store now has over 400,000 apps in the market and Android, with over 200,000, is catching up quickly
3) Session use growth - Flurry has previously found that smartphone users now spend more time in mobile apps per day than the average Internet users spends online.
4) Publisher integration of ads – with larger screens, targeting, and increased adoption of mobile applications, more publishers are integrating ads into their apps
Not only is inventory growing, but Flurry has also found that the average user of a smartphone is a very attractive target for advertisers. With a sample of more than 60,000 app users, we used location data and zip code statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau to understand their demographics. On average, smartphone users are better educated and earn higher household incomes than the average of the U.S. population.
Additionally, looking at age and gender, we find that U.S. smartphone app users cluster into younger age groups and trend slightly more female.
In 1994, Hotwired.com was the first company to start selling display advertising in large quantities on the Internet. Back then, it took over six years for advertisers to embrace this model. For mobile apps, less than four years into their growth cycle, a critical mass of highly attractive consumers has been achieved. With growing awareness by brands and advertising agencies, we now expect digital advertising on mobile to take off in earnest.
Before Harry met Sally in the late ‘80s, the dating process typically involved an introduction from a friend. Then, with the Internet and email, dating evolved. By the time we were watching the movie You’ve Got Mail - and actress Meg Ryan was cementing her status as a romantic comedy lead - the concept of online dating was going main stream.
As a social ritual, dating is a human behavior easily accelerated by technology. And it’s big business. One recent study estimated that nearly 1 in 5 singletons, who have access to the Internet, use Internet dating. Another report stated that 17% of recent marriages in the U.S. were the result of online dating websites. In size, combining North American and European markets, the online dating industry well exceeds $2 billion in revenue. Within the world of mobile apps, the largest category on iOS and Android, behind gaming, is Social Networking, in which dating apps appear. Given the voracious consumer usage we’re observing, it may also be the smartphone’s second killer app.
In this report, Flurry compares the usage of dating websites (combined desktop and mobile web) to native mobile applications over the past 12 months. For Internet consumption, we built a model using publicly available data among the top 50 dating websites from Compete.com, comScore and Alexa.com. For mobile application usage, we used Flurry Analytics data, which now tracks over 90,000 mobile applications. With respect to dating, Flurry tracks a large set of dating apps with more than 2 million total users.
Let’s start with total time spent on eDating in mobile apps versus on the web. Note that for this report, we use the term “eDating” to encompass online and mobile app dating.
As you can see, mobile dating apps now command more time compared to online dating sites: 8.4 minutes vs. 8.3 minutes. A year ago, people spent more than twice as much time on the Internet for dating as they now do in mobile apps. However, mobile app usage has increased dramatically over the last year, from 3.7 minutes in June 2010 to 8.4 minutes in June 2011, overtaking online dating time spent. These findings parallel Flurry’s recent report that showed, in total, mobile app usage has overtaken Internet usage.
In terms of engagement, frequency of use is driving growth in time spent per day in mobile dating apps. Last year, the average user opened his dating app 2 times per day, a little under 2 minutes each time. Now he opens his app over 5 times a day, but for shorter periods of time, about 1.5 minutes per session.
Next, let’s look at the proportion of people who use the Internet vs. mobile apps for eDating.
The chart above shows that dating apps are more popular on smartphones than online dating sites are on the Internet. We measured this by looking at the proportion of unique users of dating services versus the total, per platform. For the Internet, we compared unique visitors of online dating sites versus the total number of people using the Internet, which totaled 12% in June 2010 and 13% in June 2011. For mobile apps, we compared unique users of mobile dating apps versus all apps, which yielded 15% in June 2010 and 17% in June 2011.
We also found that the number of people using dating apps is growing faster than the number using all apps. In short, dating is a growth category. Overall, the number of unique users of all applications increased 125%, year-over-year, while the number of unique users using mobile dating apps increased by 150% over the same period. Comparing Internet dating to mobile app dating directly, unique users in mobile dating apps now account for about one third compared to the number of Internet dating users, which has doubled over the last year.
In an age where Facebook allows consumers to display their relationship status and easily connect to friends of friends, we speculate why mobile dating apps are gaining unprecedented traction on iOS and Android. The first reason, we believe, is that dating itself is inherently local and better served by mobile. Now, unplanned meetings of two nearby matches is more of a possibility. Secondly, it seems that mobile apps facilitate better engagement throughout the day. Today’s eDater need not be in front of her computer to view potential matches, or to receive or send messages. Her phone is always by her side. Our engagement numbers regarding frequency and session length, described above, support this trend.
iOS and Android devices are versatile multi-purpose machines that have already significantly impacted the business models of music, games and other Media & Entertainment industry categories. And now, within the nexus of mobile-social-local, mobile dating apps appear to be looking for love in all the right places.
In this new age of mobile computing, the long-term success of Apple and Google depends largely on their ability to amass third-party developer support. Developer innovation improves the way consumers connect with others, entertain themselves, work, and more, all through apps. The more a platform provider can attract unique and superior content, the more appealing the hardware device appears to consumers prior to purchase and the more loyal they become afterwards.
Last week, Apple reported that it had sold a cumulative 200 million iOS devices. Currently the App Store contains more than 425,000 apps, with total downloads surpassing 15 billion. From the developer’s point of view, the most attractive aspect of the iOS consumer audience is that they all have credit cards on file with iTunes. This means 100% of them can seamlessly pay for apps and in-app purchases. All told, the App Store offers a powerful business opportunity to developers and has attracted leading mobile developer support.
At the same time, Google’s more open Android OS distribution strategy has garnered the support of numerous notable OEMs, spawning a rapidly growing installed base of Android devices that is gunning to overtake the iOS installed base. With broader distribution across more carriers, Android device activations surpassed 500,000 per day tweeted Andy Rubin last month. This growth is up from 300,000 activations per day reported just last December. In terms of apps, the Android Market has 200,000, and Google said it crossed the 4.5 billion downloaded application mark in May.
At Flurry, we regularly track developer support across the various platforms that compete for their allegiance. When companies create new projects in Flurry Analytics, they download platform-specific SDKs for their apps. Since resources are limited, the choices developers make in building for different platforms strongly signal their confidence in those platforms. They are literally investing their R&D budgets in the hopes of generating future revenue. In total, over 45,000 companies use Flurry Analytics across more than 90,000 applications. For this report, we compare Q1 to Q2 new project starts.
Studying the numbers, it’s readily apparent that Android has lost developer support to iOS. Specifically, Android new project starts have dropped from 36% in Q1 to 28% in Q2. Overall, total Flurry iOS and Android new project starts grew from 9,100 in Q1 to 10,200 in Q2. Of note, this drop in Android developer support represents the second quarter-over-quarter slide, which follows a year of significant, steady growth for the Google-built OS. Over the course of 2010, Android developer support had steadily climbed each quarter, peaking at 39% in Q4 2010.
Considering the events that could have precipitated this shift in developer support, Flurry has identified two probable causes:
1. iPhone Launch on Verizon: With iPhone’s arrival on Verizon in February 2011, three and half years after launching on AT&T, Apple closed the most significant vulnerability gap in its U.S. distribution, and likely worldwide. In fact, with its lengthy exclusive distribution agreement of iPhone on AT&T, it could be argued that Apple itself gave Android the opportunity to reach critical mass on other carriers, most notably Verizon. In that time, Google, Verizon and a host of OEMs worked hard and fast to push Android devices as an alternative to AT&T’s iPhone juggernaut. With Verizon’s launch of the iPhone, the pendulum appears to have swung back in favor of iPhone over Android development.
2. iPad 2 Launch: Establishing an installed base of more than 20 million tablet devices in less than one year, the iPad success story has been compared to taking a buzz-saw to the PC industry. Apple’s iPad shipments, from its last disclosed quarter, were higher than the initial first two quarters of iPad availability. Apple has additionally claimed that it is seeing the “mother of all backlogs.” Building efforts lag behind consumer demand for the device. We believe that wholesale consumer acceptance and adoption of tablets, which just a year ago was questionable within the industry, is further luring developers to build for iPad instead of Android.
While Android’s device installed base continues to surge, ongoing work to improve the Android Market layout and to push forward the adoption of Google Checkout are critical to its success. PayPal’s recent acquisition of mobile payment player, Zong, demonstrates that Google may not be enabling consumer payment quickly or well enough, which is inviting 3rd party competition and creating billing fragmentation. Furthermore, the development community is concerned about the rising cost of deploying across the Android installed base, due to the double whammy of OS and storefront fragmentation. With developers pinched on both sides of the revenue and cost equation, Google must tack aggressively at this stage of the race to ensure that Apple doesn’t continue to take its developer-support wind.
Although the Internet entered the mainstream a mere 15 years ago, life without it today is nearly incomprehensible. And our use of the web has rapidly changed as well. In simple terms, it has evolved from online directories (Yahoo!) to search engines (Google) and now to social media (Facebook). Built on the desktop and notebook PC platform, the web’s popularity is significant.
Today, however, a new platform shift is taking place. In 2011, for the first time, smartphone and tablet shipments exceed those of desktop and notebook shipments (source: Mary Meeker, KPCB, see slide 7). This move means a new generation of consumers expects their smartphones and tablets to come with instant broadband connectively so they, too, can connect to the Internet.
In this report, Flurry compares how daily interactive consumption has changed over the last 12 months between the web (both desktop and mobile web) and mobile native apps. For Internet consumption, we built a model using publicly available data from comScore and Alexa. For mobile application usage, we used Flurry Analytics data, now exceeding 500 million aggregated, anonymous use sessions per day across more than 85,000 applications. We estimate this accounts for approximately one third of all mobile application activity, which we scaled-up accordingly for this analysis.
Our analysis shows that, for the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption. This stat is even more remarkable if you consider that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage, driven primarily by the popularity of iOS and Android platforms. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The preceding chart compares the average number of minutes consumers spend per day in mobile native apps vs. the web. For mobile apps, Flurry tracks iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and J2ME. And for the web, our figures include the open web, Facebook and the mobile web.
Flurry found that the average user now spends 9% more time using mobile apps than the Internet. This was not the case just 12 months ago. Last year, the average user spent just under 43 minutes a day using mobile applications versus an average 64 minutes using the Internet. Growing at 91% over the last year, users now spend over 81 minutes on mobile applications per day. This growth has come primarily from more sessions per user, per day rather than a large growth in average session lengths. Time spent on the Internet has grown at a much slower rate, 16% over the last year, with users now spending 74 minutes on the Internet a day.
As a note of interest, Facebook has increasingly taken its share of time spent on the Internet, now making up 14 of the 74 minutes spent per day by consumers, or about one sixth of all Internet minutes. Considering Facebook’s recent leak regarding Project Spartan, an effort to run apps within its service on top of the mobile Safari browser, thus disintermediating Apple, it appears Facebook seeks to counter both Apple and Google’s increasing control over consumers as mobile app usage proliferates.
Games & Social Networking Dominate Mobile App Usage
With mobile app usage soaring, Flurry additionally studied which categories most occupy consumers’ time. For this snapshot, Flurry captured time spent per category from May 2011 across all apps it tracks, now totaling more than 85,000. The results are shown in the pie chart below.
The chart clearly shows that Games and Social Networking categories capture the significant majority of consumers’ time. Consumers spend nearly half their time using Games, and a third in Social Networking apps. Combined, these two categories control a whopping 79% of consumers’ total app time. Further, as we drill down into the data, consumers use these two categories more frequently, and for longer average session lengths, compared to other categories. Any way we slice it, Games and Social Networking apps deliver the most engaging experience on mobile today.
With a better understanding of how consumers spend their time across app categories, Facebook’s Project Spartan makes even more sense. As a category, social networking – which is Facebook’s core competency – commands the second largest allocation of consumers’ time. Games, which typify the most popular kind of app played on the Facebook platform itself, are also the top categories on both Android and iOS platforms. As interactive media usage continues to shift from the web to mobile apps, one thing is certain: Facebook, Apple and Google will all expend significant resources to ensure that no one company dominates owning the direct relationship with the consumer.
Last year, Flurry reported that iPhone and iPod touch game sales surged from 2008 to 2009. From a standing start, and in just one year, iPhone games captured 5% of the mature U.S. video game market. A year later, we revisit how the increasing popularity of iOS (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Android games continue to increase their U.S. video game market share. With an additional year of trend data, the magnitude of disruption is increasing, in particular within the portable gaming category.
For this year’s report, Flurry once again leverages publicly available market data in the news, released by companies such as the NPD Group (e.g., Gamasutra’s Behind the Numbers series). We combine this data with our own estimates of game category revenues from iOS and Android devices. Flurry Analytics, the company’s mobile application analytics service, tracks more than 12 billion anonymous, aggregated use sessions per month across more than 80,000 applications. Of this, nearly 40% of all consumer app sessions are spent on games.
For 2010, we expanded our iPhone and iPod touch numbers to include revenue delivered by tablets and Android devices. When running this analysis a year ago, the iPad had not yet launched and Android gaming revenue from 2008 and 2009 had not yet contributed enough revenue to meaningfully affect industry market share. For the sake of a consistent year-over-year comparison in all other aspects of this analysis, we continue to exclude retail PC game revenue, and once again do not include online digital game sales.
Apple and Google Platforms Push Forward into Video Gaming
From 2009 to 2010, iOS and Android game sales increased from 5% to 8% market share within the U.S. video game market. Specifically, we estimate that iOS and Android game revenue increased from $500 million in 2009 to more than $800 million in 2010. Of this, the significant majority of revenue was generated by iPhone games. And while we do not include retail PC game revenue in our total snapshot, which we estimate was $700 million in 2010, it’s worth noting that smartphone and tablet game revenue surpassed the U.S. PC game category for the first time in 2010.
Studying the chart above, console and smart-device games have increased at the expense of portable gaming. Overall, total U.S. game revenue from 2009 to 2010 is relatively flat, totalling $10.4 billion and $10.7 billion, respectively. However, while console game revenue increased slightly, from about $7.4 billion in 2009 to $7.8 billion in 2010, the combination of declines in portable gaming software and a jump in smart-device app sales has squeezed the portable game category down from 24% market share in 2009 to just 16% in 2010. It’s clear that prolific intalled base gains by Apple and Android devices, low priced games (including a very robust free-to-play model enabled by in-app purchases) and seamless digital distribution to games on devices so near to consumers 24-hours-a-day, is driving potent industry-disruption.
Over 2011, we expect to see continued and significant smart-device game growth fueled by the recent launch of iPad 2, iPhone coming into distribution on Verizon, the expected release of iPhone 5, a relentless expansion of Android devices by leading OEMs across all major U.S. carriers, and Google’s enablement of in-app purchase billing, a proven key driver in iOS game revenue.
U.S. Portable Gaming: Mario’s Burning Platform
Recently, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, passionately described a burning platform Nokia had itself set ablaze, largely as a result of its own strategic choices. Allegorically, despite Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata’s stated concern that “these [mobile] platforms have no motivation to maintain the value of gaming” during his keynote at the most recent GDC conference, Nintendo may also be struggling with its own burning platform: Nintendo DS. Let’s look at the numbers.
From 2009 to 2010, iOS and Android game sales have spiked significantly, resulting in nearly a doubling of their market share. With both Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable shrinking in sales, while smart-device game sales simultaneously grew by more than 60%, iOS and Android games now represent more than one third of the portable game category. The net effect is that the U.S. portable gaming category, as we define it, has declined from $2.7 billion in 2009 to roughly $2.4 billion in 2010.
Wedbush Morgan Securities video game analyst, Michael Pachter, points out that the “onslaught of $1 games is going to continue” and that "[Nintendo and Sony] are going to have to share the market with Apple and Android.” Our numbers quantify just how much. Further, as iOS and Android continue to change the paradigm of casual gaming, the battle between Nintendo against platforms such as iOS and Android will intensify. Mario may indeed be standing on a burning platform.
In the United States, Thanksgiving weekend sales are closely studied to predict consumer spending for the upcoming holiday season. This year, NPD Group reported that the share of shoppers for brick-and-mortar increased by about 6 percent while online shoppers' share grew by 44 percent. Further, according to IBM’s Coremetrics, Cyber Monday online sales already exceeded this year's Black Friday by 31%.
Similarly, over the Thanksgiving weekend, Flurry measured strong growth for new smartphone devices and application downloads. Note that because the mobile device and application download markets continue to grow at accelerating rates, we used a week-over-week vs. year-over-year comparison.
The chart below shows the number of new devices detected by more than 55,000 applications in the market which include Flurry Analytics. The bulk of growth is driven by Apple iOS devices and a number of recent break-out Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola Droid 2 and LG Optimus S. Flurry detects a new, unique device the first time an application which includes Flurry Analytics is launched on that device.
Reviewing the chart above, new devices detected on Black Friday jumped by 57% over the previous week's Friday. Total new device growth for the holiday weekend, compared to the same four-day period from the prior week, was 31%. Interestingly, this surge demonstrates that consumers appear to be buying and activating smartphones early in the season for personal use. This early indicator suggests that strong spending on smartphones as gifts throughout the season should continue.
App consumption over Thanksgiving weekend also showed solid growth. However, as the chart below shows, downloads on Thanksgiving Day led all days of the holiday weekend with 54%, versus new handset growth which led on Black Friday. At 39% growth, Black Friday applications were also strong. Total week-over-week download growth was 25%.
Christmas is historically the strongest season of app downloads to mobile phones. As consumers receive new handsets, they immediately personalize their handsets with new content. With early growth indicators for both handset and download growth, Flurry predicts Holiday 2010 will deliver another record-breaking season for application consumption and mobile device sales.
On October 5, 2009, CBS canceled "Guiding Light," the longest running television drama in history, which began in 1952. Last month, CBS aired the last episode of "As the World Turns," the Proctor & Gamble production that has been running for more than 50 years. Ad dollars allocated to soaps fell nearly 30 percent from 2005 to 2009, and then fell another 20 percent in the first half of 2010.
Since the 90s, the television industry has been reeling from the disruptive forces of the Internet and DVRs. No longer could the industry depend on a captive audience to which it had grown so accustomed. While the industry has adapted its programming with a glut of cheaper, but profitable competition reality shows and edgier dramas to reclaim a loyal audience, a new entertainment force is once again driving disruption: the iPhone. The chart below illustrates how iOS social games, a popular form of gaming mixed with social networking, stack up against primetime TV viewership.
Social games on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices are competing for television viewers. In fact, these apps, tracked on the Flurry network alone, comprise of a daily audience of more than 19 million who spend over 22 minutes per day using these apps. Treated as a consumer audience, its size and reach rank somewhere between NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and only 4 million viewers shy from beating the number one prime-time show on television, FOX’s American Idol.
However, Flurry is only seeing part of the picture. With Flurry integrated into more than 50,000 apps, out of Apple’s stated total of 250,000 apps, Flurry has about 20% penetration. Additionally, since this analysis focuses on only two categories of applications, social games and social networking apps, it’s clear that iOS devices are already ahead of prime time television’s hottest shows.
Given that the app store only launched in July 2008, these figures are staggering. Mass consumption of applications on mobile devices has exploded in record time. Also noteworthy is that the enormous audience these applications reach takes place every day, 365 days a year. Compared to a top television series, which airs 22 episodes a season, advertisers can reach a larger consumer audience through applications 15 times more frequently.
There are a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from this phenomenal shift in audience behavior. The most obvious is the impact on the advertisement industry, which has relied on the reach generated by its prime time television slot for years. This season, while Americon Idol is busy shuffling judges, the people have voted: iOS social games are as prime time as prime time television. Enjoy the show!
Flurry regularly monitors new project starts by developers within its system to gauge interest across mobile platforms. With over 20,000 apps started by developers within Flurry, we believe this provides meaningful insight on the platforms that most excite developers, and where current resources are being deployed.
Since Apple introduced the iPad in late January, Flurry noted a significant spike in developer support, indicating early excitement for the promise of the device. As April 3 draws near, developers continue to develop for the iPad at a fever pitch. Today Apple added a toggle switch to its online iTunes store that allows consumers to view apps available specifically developed for the iPad. About 2,000 iPad apps were listed upon our initial count.
Looking into our system, we break out iPad-specific developer support by new project. For reference, we compare this to pre-iPad ratios to demonstrate how much developer interest the Apple iPad is attracting. Specifically, we compare averages taken across 2009 vs. the last 60 days, pulled earlier this week.
Comparing the two pie charts, the first notable difference is that iPad made up 22% of new projects starts within Flurry over the last 60 days. In March, over 3,000 unique applications were created within Flurry. A second point of interest is that Android's share of new project starts has decreased from 18% to 10%. However, it should not be concluded that Android developer support is on the decline. In fact, the opposite is true, as we count approximately 300 new Android projects in March, which represents a 50% increase over February. Android's percent has declined because iPhone and iPad growth is increasing at a rate faster than that of Android. In short, more developers are building more apps. The total pie is growing significantly, month over month. A final note is that relative support for Blackberry continues to diminish. While not shown in the chart, we calculate 1% share for Blackberry over the last 60 days, down from 4% for the whole of 2009.
Through applications using Flurry for analytics reporting, Flurry can detect and count unique devices in the market such as Google Nexus One and Motorola Droids. Because applications embedded with Flurry have been downloaded to over 80% of all iPhone OS and Android devices, Flurry is able to make reliable estimates about total handset sales.
Earlier this year, Flurry estimated both first week and first month sales of Nexus One Sales compared to Motorola Droid and the first generation iPhone, among others. Despite the fact that the Google Nexus One is the most advanced Android handset to date, and enjoyed substantial buzz leading up to its release, the launch has been overshadowed by lower than expected sales. In our previous reports we offered several possible reasons including unconventional choices in marketing, pricing and distribution.
So, why 74? Simply put, according to Apple, the original iPhone reached 1 million units sold in that many days. And since the Nexus One launched on January 5, we've had Friday, March 19 (aka day 74) circled on our calendars. The comparison is interesting because the iPhone and Nexus One each represent Apple and Google's first fully branded handsets, respectively. We add the Motorola Droid as a point of comparison, and because it's the fastest selling Android phone to date.
The chart below compares the sales results through each of their respective first 74 days. The launch dates were: iPhone, June 29, 2007; Droid, November 5, 2009; and, Nexus One, January 5, 2010. Please note that we forecasted the last few days of Nexus One's first 74 days sales based sales of the first 70 days we tracked at the time of writing this report.
Inspecting the graph, it's immediately clear that Nexus One sales continue to pale in comparison to iPhone 1G and Motorola Droid, with each besting Nexus One sales by roughly 8 times over the same time period.
At the same time, an interesting side-story is that the Motorola Droid edged out iPhone 1G over the first 74 days, coming in at just over one million sold through, by our calculations. This was surprising enough that we re-ran our estimates several times and still came up with the same results. Thinking about the differences associated with each launch (operator, year, etc.), we believe there are three underlying drivers of Droid worth keeping in mind compared to the other two handsets:
1. Consumer Perception & Demand: Motorola Droid launched over 2.5 years after the iPhone 1G. (Nov 2009 vs. July 2007). When the iPhone launched, consumers' concept of a mobile computing device as we now understand it, was very different. Since then, Apple has spent millions of dollars training and educating consumers about capabilities of such a device, which was no small feat especially after its first foray into the handset business (Motorola ROKR E1 in 2005). Until the iPhone was introduced, most consumers, especially in the U.S. had thought of their phones as, well, just phones. Finally, it's worth noting that the Motorola Droid could be considered Android's "third generation" handset, which benefited from generated awareness by preceding G1 and MyTouch 3G handsets.
2. Relative Subscriber Bases: Droid launched on Verizon, a larger network with more subscribers than AT&T, especially when considering AT&T's 2007 size (63.7 million at the time of iPhone launch) versus Verizon's 2009 size (89 million at the end of Q3). Additionally, there was pent up demand among the Verizon subscriber base for an iPhone killer, which is exactly how Verizon positioned the Droid. Finally, Verizon backed the launch with advertising support of at least $100 million.
3. Holiday Season Sales: Droid benefited from launching on Nov 5 and having its first 74 days lifted by the holiday season, which is the highest selling period of the year for handsets. Neither iPhone 1G nor Nexus One's first 74 days spanned a holiday period.
As Google and Apple continue to battle for the mobile marketplace, Google Nexus One may go down as a grand, failed experiment or one that ultimately helped Google learn something that will prove important in years to come. Apple's more vertically integrated strategy vs. Google's more open Android platform approach offer strengths and weaknesses that remind us of PC vs. Mac from the 1980's. A key difference this time around is that Apple is enjoying much more 3rd party developer support, whose innovative applications push the limits of what the hardware can do. Ultimately, however, developers support hardware with the largest installed base first. For Android to make progress faster, from a sales perspective, it needs more Droids and fewer Nexus Ones going forward.
Each month, Flurry leverages its data set collected from iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and J2ME applications to identify, study and share industry trends. Flurry tracks over 20,000 live applications and over 2 billion user sessions each month. Applications that include Flurry Analytics have been downloaded to more than 80% of all iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices. Additionally, each day, approximately one of out every five downloaded applications from the App Store and Android Market include Flurry Analytics. The Pulse report is generated in the first half of each month, looking back at data up through the previous month. Different than other reports that provide updates to the same set of statistics each month, Flurry explores different business themes and topical issues relevant to mobile developers and other industry players.
I. Money Talks: App Store vs. Facebook Platform
Since the App Store launched in July 2008, 35,000 unique companies have released applications, which translates to 58 new companies launching apps each day. This appears to be the largest amassing of 3rd party developer support by any development platform in such a compressed timeframe. For example, comparing the number of applications created for the Facebook platform to the App Store over their respective first 9 months, Apple boasted 25,000 apps to Facebook's 14,000. Comparing respective growth in apps after 14 months, Apple had widened its gap to 85,000 apps over Facebook's 33,000. At the App Store's 18 month mark, reached this January, the number of iPhone apps was reported to have exceeded 140,000 compared to the 60,000 we estimate Facebook had reached over its first 18 months. We believe the difference in growth rates can be attributed to the App Store providing better monetization possibilities for application developers than Facebook did through its first 18 months. Developers, like all rational companies, pursue markets where the path to revenue generation is clear.
II. iPhone Developer DNA: O Brother, Where Art Thou (from)
Thinking about the sheer number of developers with applications in the App Store, we had the practical question: where'd they all come from? It's as if they've appeared over night. Has Apple created a magical new economy for application development start-ups, attracted existing content creators and brands from other platforms, or both? In this report, Flurry examines the genealogy of iPhone application content; that is, their platforms of origin. This sheds light on the mix of skills, motivations and frames of reference different content providers bring to the App Store economy, and which are winning.
To generate a sample that allowed us to compare across categories and pricing models (paid, ad supported, micro-transactions, etc.), Flurry created an index that took into account application rankings across both top 100 paid and top 100 free categories, additionally adjusting for frequency of use and user retention over time. Doing so enabled us to evaluate a free application's ability to retain a user base, important for generating advertising revenue past the download. Based on this index, we generated a list of 200 applications and identified six distinct "heritage" categories:
1. Native iPhone: Companies founded to create applications for iPhone (e.g., ngmoco, PageOnce)
2. Traditional Media: Companies established on Film, TV, Print and Radio (e.g., Disney, TBS, NYT)
3. Mobile: Companies having started on J2ME, BREW, BlackBerry, etc. (e.g., Digital Chocolate, eBuddy)
4. Retail & CPG: Brick-and-mortar companies or ones that manufacture goods (e.g., The Gap, DKNY, Kraft)
5. Online: Companies who began on the web including e-Commerce, social networks, online gaming, streaming music, etc. (e.g., Google, eBay, Facebook, Pandora, PopCap, Zynga)
6. Traditional Gaming: Video game companies from console, portable or PC (e.g., EA, Activision).
The pie chart below shows a breakdown of developers making top applications based on their heritage:
On any new media platform (or channel), entrepreneurial companies enter early in an attempt to establish themselves before a wave of large brands enters the space. At the same time, bigger companies typically take a wait-and-see approach when evaluating new channels and only invest after the ROI for the channel is proven. This combination of small and big company behavior, when evaluating new platforms/channels, creates the window for entrepreneurs to enter early and potentially disrupt big companies before they arrive. The iPhone platform is no exception.
Despite the fact that the App Store is now maturing, reaching its two year anniversary this summer, we are encouraged that native iPhone application developers are still relevant, representing 20% of the heritage pie, the second largest category. This means that the barrier to entry is still low enough for start-ups to enter and innovation to flourish. However, those days may be numbered as "discoverability" has become a significant issue, and now "marketing muscle" is starting to count more in the App Store. This favors brands and larger companies with resources to spend their way in. We are seeing signs that big brands are becoming more active, now perceiving that the iPhone has reached critical mass. With iPhone and iPod Touch now exceeding 70 million units world-wide, we expect 2010 to be the year of brands entering the iPhone. Going forward, we will especially see more movement by established brands from media, retail and CPG. In particular, traditional media (News, Books, TV, Film, Music, etc.) growth will accelerate aggressively with the introduction of the iPad.
The first and third largest heritage categories, Online and Traditional gaming, will likely see little change, or perhaps even a decline in "heritage share," since they were early iPhone entrants and their properties have largely already discovered.
Taking a deeper look at gaming, the iPhone's largest revenue generating category, shows the following distribution of developers based on heritage:
Given the specialized skill-set required to build a compelling game, it's no surprise that traditional game companies lead this category, including companies such as Electronic Arts and Activision. At the same time, native iPhone developers (i.e., brand new gaming start-ups) command the second largest category. The success of new iPhone game developers makes sense given the fact that the traditional gaming industry has long had pent up demand from garage and independent developers looking for new platforms where development and distribution costs allow them to compete. We've seen innovation from companies such as Tapulous, Backflip Studios, ngmoco and others. Online, the third largest segment, includes companies such as PopCap, Playfish and Zynga who have naturally expanded distribution to iPhone given its similar characteristics of being "casual gaming" friendly. Tied for third with Online, Traditional Media (e.g., licensed properties like SpongeBob and Disney Fairies) have long held a place in gaming since brands seek to use the gaming channel to promote their core properties (e.g., upcoming movies) and earn incremental revenue. The most surprising category is mobile gaming which only commands a 12% share. However, investigating more deeply reveals that most successful companies on mobile, prior to the iPhone, did not originally start on mobile. Rather they came from traditional gaming, online and traditional media platforms. Simply put, few pure-play mobile gaming start-ups exist. Some exceptions include Gameloft, Glu Mobile and Digital Chocolate.
Finally, we examine the News Category more closely:
Like gaming, the creation of compelling content in News is a specialized and costly operation. To source and report quality news, companies often have to span various media such as TV broadcast, radio and print, which further increases cost. It's therefore no surprise that Traditional Media dominates the News category, controlling nearly two thirds. For traditional media (e.g., New York Times, ABC News, NPR, etc.), the iPhone represents a large channel through which to distribute their existing content. The small incremental cost of expanding the distribution of Traditional Media's core content, and the attractiveness of reaching an educated, affluent and tech-savvy audience, makes iPhone the perfect platform through which to serve news. Looking forward, the iPad creates an even greater opportunity to increase reach because its larger screen size works better works for newspaper and magazine layouts, as well as TV broadcast.
Native applications represent the second largest category, due to innovation from native iPhone applications that allow personalized filtering, automatically work around gaps in connectivity to pull new content more seamlessly or aggregate and optimize new reading on the iPhone (e.g., Stitcher Radio, Byline, Conserva, etc.). Online, which represents a large share of news consumption in its own right, makes up the third largest category of news on the iPhone.
Finally, while Online is currently in 3rd, we believe the iPad's form factor will deliver a more familiar browsing experience. With ever-increasing wifi coverage, online media players will continue to increase their share just as the Internet cannibalized Print media in the 1990's and 2000's.
III. iPad Anticipation Continues to Stoke Developer Activity
After measuring that developers integrating Flurry analytics into iPhone OS applications in January increased by nearly three times over December, we were eager to follow up on this trend after February data rolled in. The January spike represented the single largest spike in Flurry history. Since iPad runs on a version of iPhone OS, Flurry automatically supports iPad applications (and we've done further testing on the SDK to verify this). This is also how Flurry was able to see application activity on the iPad since last October.
Now, over six weeks since Apple announced the iPad, Flurry continues to measure a significant increase in iPhone OS new application starts within its system. To measure, we took a "before vs. after" snapshot of monthly iPhone OS project starts in our system (iPad runs on iPhone OS 3.2). For the "before" we averaged August - December, 2009 monthly new iPhone app starts within Flurry, and for the "after" we did the same for January - February, 2010.
Historically, we've seen development spikes around new hardware announcements and releases including Motorola Droid for Android development and iPhone 3GS for iPhone OS development. iPad appears to be having a similar, albeit amplified effect, which we attribute to the excitement generated by the impending launch of of the device, now set for April 3 in the U.S. A large proportion of the applications we are seeing are custom ports of existing applications tailored for the iPad. With over 140,000 applications in the App Store, developers who modify, or build from the ground up, their applications early on for the iPad may have the opportunity to establish an early presence on this new device and drive more downloads. To wit, Apple announced today that it will include a dedicated "iPad" app category in the App Store.